Or, Why I’m Breaking Up with Scribd
I’ve had a free trial of Scribd for a bit, but now that I have drifted into the subscription plan, and I’ve decided to cancel.
One thing to note, in case anyone else is thinking of doing the same: I cancelled with Scribd assuming they’d give me the end of the month that I paid for. They don’t. They halt your subscription the moment you press the button. So you will get ripped off for whatever was left in that month. Which, come to think of it, is pretty much the level of competence of the rest of their app.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the idea of a subscription-based ebook and audiobook app. I’d willingly pay, even for Scribd’s rather limited offering.
But my experience has taught me that while selection is important, the app itself is crucial. If Scribd ever gets their act together and hires some competent android programmers, I’ll gladly reinstate my membership.
I thought the UI was pretty, but difficult to search and use. The book app isn’t flexible enough for me to read happily. I only tried it once, and my highlights didn’t appear to save and I couldn’t make notes. The audiobook player is very, very flaky. It stops randomly, and I have to go restart it. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I’m out biking, so it’s not exactly as though I can easily navigate to the app and press play again. More entertainingly, it also started up a few times at random, e.g. during a phone call.
But my biggest problem is that its notification arbitrarily swaps from "downloaded" to “streaming over data”. I have pretty limited data, so always start by downloading the books (in airplane mode, because I don’t trust Scribd to use wifi instead of data). Even so, throughout my usage, the text at the bottom would arbitrarily flip between “streaming over data,” “streaming over wifi,” and “downloaded.” To get it back to “downloaded,” I had to go to “downloaded books” and re-open it from there. There are two possibilities: one, the app really does swap randomly to different methods of retrieving data; two, the text is completely inconsistent with the actual data method. I can’t decide which is more disturbing.
Either way, it’s enough for me to unsubscribe.
If Scribd ever hires some competent android programmers and gets its act together, please someone let me know and I’ll happily join back up.
On the positive side, my library just started subscribing to Hoopla, which is lovely, professional, easy-to-use, stable, and just generally full of awesome.